Sunday 17 December 2017

Monty still struggling to say the right thing

PITY poor Colin Montgomerie. He's on the horns of a dilemma, he doesn't know which way to turn, his back is against the wall and he can't keep everyone happy. Never before has the Ryder Cup captain been weighed down by so many clichés.

Before the Wales Open at Celtic Manor two months ago, Montgomerie insisted he wanted to pick players who showed "support for European golf and the European Tour" and that he would be surprised if the European players in the race for places would not compete in Gleneagles (this weekend's final qualifying tournament). "I am convinced that I will have around eight candidates for three spots," he said in June. "You can count on those eight playing at Gleneagles."

What he has ended up with, effectively, is five candidates for three spots and four of them -- the FedEx Four of Pádraig Harrington, Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Luke Donald -- swerved Gleneagles to chase the dollar in America.

Cue the backtrack. "I will be selecting the best 12 players. That was my remit at the start of this campaign and it has never changed. I did ask the four guys playing in America to come to Gleneagles. I spoke to them all two weeks ago at the USPGA. But I also respect their decision. I'm not in a position to tell anyone where to play."

* * * * *

The GAA are on course to sell all of the ten-year Premium Stand tickets that are currently up for renewal. The deadline is Friday and despite recently coming under fire for raising the cost by 63 per cent, they have already resold over three-quarters of the tickets without having to offer them for sale to the public.

"Some people have decided not to renew for different reasons and that is fully understandable," explained Peter McKenna, Croke Park stadium director. "What we have done, rather than opening it up to the open market, we are talking to people who are on the waiting list. After Friday, we will then open it up for general consideration."

While Croke Park haven't reduced the price of the tickets, they have tried to accommodate the current economic crisis by introducing a three-year price of €4,000 for those who can't afford to fully renew their tickets at present. In conjunction with this they will maintain the current price for ten-year tickets for when their next renewal comes up. There are 2,200 tickets up for renewal this time round.

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FORMER Laois footballer Colm Parkinson took to the airwaves again last week to preach from his football gospel. The forward, who now plays with Northside club Parnell's, gave his views on the Dublin supporters.

He announced to the nation that most of the Dublin fans don't know what they talking about as some of them still shout from the Hill for Jason Sherlock and Ciarán Whelan.

And he didn't stop there. As the debate surrounding the fencing of Hill 16 intensified in the run up to the All-Ireland semi-finals, he added his two cents' worth to that too.

"I don't think the fence will make much of a difference, I'm on the Hill a lot for Dublin matches because I've friends from there. Most of the lads are legless anyway," he claimed.

"They are going to get over the fence if there is one there. It's more of a health and safety risk having it. Most of them can climb over it, half of them could jump over it the state that they will be in. I don't see how it is going to help."

* * * * *

GOLFERS are notoriously meticulous when it comes to preparation, going through endless hours of practice on the range and putting green and never hitting a shot on the course until all the factors of distance, lie and weather conditions are taken into account. And that's before they settle into the pre-shot routine.

Imagine, then, how Jim Furyk must have felt when he woke up on Wednesday morning just seven minutes before he was due on the first tee for the Barclays Pro-Am. Jim had done everything right, including setting the alarm on his mobile phone to wake him up in plenty of time.

Unfortunately, furious Furyk's battery died in the night and despite racing to the course with his trousers barely on and no socks, Jim missed his slot. And his penalty for not playing in the Pro-am? Disqualification from the tournament.

-- Marie Crowe and

Fergus McDonnell

Sunday Independent

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